Spider-Man: Homecoming is a heroic coming-of-age story for all audiences
*Spoiler Alert* while this review does not reveal any surprise elements, it could in fact spoil some aspects of the movie.
It would seem as if Peter Parker’s Spider-Man has officially landed!
Spider-Man: Homecoming opens to the public on July 7th – or as the film strategically promotes – “7/7/17” but with over 50 reviews and counting, Homecoming is already basking in a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Within 24 hours of the North American preview screenings, both fans and critics are hailing director John Watt’s Spidey-resurgence as “The best Spider-Man movie to date.”
As the opening credits roll, we hear the classic Spider-Man music fans are sure to relish in. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is the first character we’re introduced to, however. Toomes is an New York City salvage contractor who was hired to clean up the mess from the invasion in 2012’s The Avengers. If you remember, the Avengers’ battle against the Chitauri left parts of the city buried in Chitauri weaponry and Leviathan armour. Toomes invested in a larger crew with more gear and trucks to honour his contract but billionaire Tony Stark (Iron Man/Robert Downey Jr.) steps in, dismissively overtaking Toomes’ cleanup efforts.
Irate, Toomes faces bankruptcy and decides to keep the tech he’s already salvaged to fend for himself. With the help of his new henchmen: Phineas Mason (The Tinkerer played by Michael Chernus), two separate Shockers (Logan Marshall-Green and Bokeem Woodbine – you find out why there are two of them), and the old wrecking crew (whilst not the Marvel Wrecking Crew fans recognize from the comics), we’re given a preview of what’s to come. The dialogue is determined yet short-lived and we’re plunged into Queens, New York, 8 years later.
Here, the audience gets a unique “behind the scenes” look at Peter Parker (Tom Holland) through some crowd-pleasing video footage. Narrated by Peter himself, the videos were taken during Spider-Man’s debut battle alongside the Avengers in Berlin from 2014’s Captain America: Civil War. Parker’s sophomore appearance is the first nod to the title, Homecoming, as he literally returns home from his “internship” with Stark Industries.
The comical footage depicts a teenage Spider-Man in battle with the world famous Avengers and it shapes the young, fresh, and vibrant tone of the movie ahead. Cut to Peter at home and we begin to see the very normal life young Peter Parker leads in NYC (minus his secret superpowers). We’re settled nicely into a feel-good plot that takes place after the infamously over-adapted depictions of Uncle Ben’s tragic death and Peter’s life-changing spider bite.
Peter Parker is like any other teenager attending high school in New York City and the diversity in his school is worth a mention. It was very responsible of the director and casting crew to show all different types and races of teenagers. One particular shining moment is when his academic decathlon team heads to Washington, DC, the audience (as well as some characters) are reminded how the Washington monument was built by slaves. A little education for the children.
British actor Tom Holland shines in the starring role and his rendering of Parker is unparalleled, snarky, and irresistible. Holland admits he enrolled in a New York City high school in the Bronx (undercover with a fake accent) to prepare for the rolelas he only ever attended private schools in London, UK.
“It was really interesting because New York City high schools are so different than the schools that I went to in London,” he said in an interview.
The first half of the movie focuses on how Parker has a hard time fighting his overbearing urge to protect the citizens of NYC from local criminals. His attempts at contacting Tony Stark for another “Avengers mission” go unanswered and Parker begins to lose focus in school.
One of the biggest accomplishments this movie makes is how relate-able it is for young audiences. Kids across the globe are going to be quoting one-liners all summer long.
The second nod to the title Homecoming is that Peter’s high school is about to have their Homecoming Dance. Parker is set on going with Liz (Laura Harrier), but we see him struggle with the confidence he so easily conveys as Spider-Man. Parker’s high school experiences humanize him and we see him struggle to fit in.
By day, Parker is a chemistry nerd who’s teased by his peers in front of the girl he likes. By night, he’s a thrill-seeking vigilante convinced he can extinguish NYC crime; he juggles the pressure of being an outcast teenager with the passion of being a bona fide superhero. He doesn’t need Stark’s permission to fight crime, but he seeks validation and more exciting thrills. One thing leads to another and we see Spider-Man at the wrong place at the right time. Cue Michael Keaton’s Vulture! The irony surrounding Adrian Toomes’ scavenger ways is not lost as he plays the super-villain.
There are so many firsts in this movie; it would prove difficult and spoilery to list them all. The new Spidey-suit Tony Stark gifts to Parker is a character in itself as Parker struggles to navigate it’s high-tech features. While the new Spidey logo falls short, the suit itself is sure to delight fans worldwide. But without all of the bells and whistles his new Avenger suit provides, Parker is faced with the subconscious task of finding the hero within.
The script, plot, and action sequences are unrivalled, and while critics may suggest too much time is spent on humanizing Peter Parker, the audience really gets to see Spider-Man blossom as a superhero. There are a few “yeah, right” moments, but this is a movie about a kid who inherited super powers from a spider, after all.
Honourable mentions go to his on-screen best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) who delivers laugh after laugh, a younger more involved Aunt May (Marrisa Tomei), and a jaded yet book smart Michelle (Zendaya/MJ). Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) makes a cameo, as well, although her role is short-lived and a bit unnecessary.
Of course, there are plenty of new and exciting battle scenes (the vertigo-inducing Washington monument scene is a stand-out), but within all the star power Spider-Man conveys, Homecoming is first and foremost a coming-of-age story. John Watt’s rendition of Spider-Man mixes the innocence and wit of a teen classic with the intelligence and geek chic rhetoric of a comic blockbuster. For a movie about growing up, Homecoming proves to be an enjoyable film about what it means to be a kid and a superhero. Both inside the Spidey-suit, and out.
While the two after-the-credits bonus scenes aren’t nearly as amazing as Spider-Man, Marvel has definitely webbed another hit!
About the Author
Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.